Series: Dorothy Must Die, #1
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Genres: Action, Fairytale Retelling, YA
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
I found myself completely enamoured with this retelling and I can only hope that this review will do my love for this book justice. Dorothy Must Die takes the original tale of Oz and spins it on its head. It adds in unique features that allows you to differentiate it from the original and Danielle definitely managed to make this story her own. However, Dorothy Must Die is still faithful to the original as it retains core themes and values, the ‘definitely not in Kansas anymore’ atmosphere and some of the original characters. These characters are definitely twisted and skewed in Dorothy Must Die though.
Dorothy is the prime example of this. Danielle has definitely managed to make me feel complete and utter hatred for this character. It’s quite amazing actually, how much I felt like killing Dorothy myself. This girl in the familiar blue and white gingham pattern is a completely changed individual compared to the original. To be exact, she’s now a raving mad woman bitch psychopath. She rules over Oz with complete and utter cruelty and shows no concern for anybody other than herself. She’s turned Oz from a magical place to one that’s completely dark and grim. Dorothy is also controlling to an insane point, punishing anybody for dares step even the tiniest bit out of line. She doesn’t hesitate to punish even a flying cute monkey for sass. The punishment entails pinning him to a tree for days upon days. There’s also this scene regarding the killing of a mouse which made me completely shudder and feel utterly disgusted.
Where her eyes should have been there were instead just two empty, blackened sockets. Her mouth was hanging open as if it’d been frozen in mid-scream.
“Unfortunately there was a bit of a mishap during her interrogation,” Dorothy said.
Dorothy is truly a chilling antagonist which is made even more clear by the above quotation regarding a maid who had betrayed her. I don’t think I’ve read a story in a while where the antagonist has left me with so much hate. However, at the same time you can’t help be intrigued by Dorothy. What would have had to happen to a person to make them become so inhuman? That question is danced around in this installment, but never really answered. I’m confident that it’ll be the focus of the sequels. This one does clearly show cause why Dorothy can’t stand Amy Gumm, the protagonist though. I enjoyed that Dorothy is given a reason for this hatred, and isn’t simply hating blindly. It truly showcases key personality traits that Dorothy has in this Oz. One of these traits is vanity, which is quite played up. I must admit that at times the hyper sexualization of Dorothy was too much. Still, I think it’s key to understanding Dorothy’s personality and motivations in this novel and its sequels.
I mentioned the protagonist in the above paragraph, Amy Gumm. Her voice was one that I very much enjoyed and because of it, I found myself even more immersed in this dark world of Oz. Amy is a girl who I found strong, but also very realistic. When Amy becomes aware of certain situations and what’s expected of her, she just doesn’t blindly go off doing those things. In fact, Amy usually tends to run away and this made her more realistic and relatable to me. Soon she does realize her place and what must be done though, and once she makes a choice she sticks to her guns and becomes very strong. Another thing I loved about Amy was how the author paints her relationship with her mother. It’s definitely a rocky one, the mother suffers from alcoholism. Still, you can still plainly see that Amy cares about her mother. Throughout this novel you see Amy struggle with her feelings towards her mother and I loved seeing that the mother still had a prominent role in the story, even if she wasn’t directly involved with things in Oz.
Amy also manages to find some humor in dark situations, which was nice to read amidst Dorothy’s madness and violence.
“If I don’t come back,” I told her, “find a way to give everyone the plague.”
The aforementioned quote was spoken to Starr, Amy’s pet rat. It was during a time in which Amy is in a jail cell so this line was great to lighten the mood. I actually chuckled while reading it. Lines like these made me fall even deeper in love with Amy’s characterization.
There was romance for Amy in Dorothy Must Die, but I do think it was the weakest point of the novel. On the plus side, there wasn’t so much time spent on the romance that it overwhelmed the plot. This was actually very good, I would have been very disappointed to see this amazing story tossed to the side for a romance. Though it was because of that lack of time spent developing the romance that I couldn’t quite find myself connecting to it all of the way. I hope that future installments in this series will continue to focus on the plot line, but also find a way to incorporate the romance so it feels better developed and something that I can better enjoy.
The main star of Dorothy Must Die was easily the vivid imagery and worldbuilding of Oz. It was so dark and I completely and utterly adored it. Dorothy’s reign of terror has led to murderous creatures prowling around ready to kill at her every whim, desolate wastelands devoid of magic and landscapes that are very Tim Burton creepy esque. The worldbuilding was so intriguing it me and I found myself wanting to learn more and more about Oz. The author skillfully twists the traditional image of Oz and turns into something utterly sinister and alluring. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Danielle’s Oz is just asking to be translated into media and is in fact being made into a TV show. I’ll definitely be one watching that TV show and marvelling at how darkly fantastical it’ll look.
After a while, the bedraggled fields by the side of the road turned into huge cornfields on either side, with stalks as tall as my body. I was used to cornfields back in Kansas, obviously, but these were different: every ear was as black and shiny as oil. It looked like each one had been dipped in tar. Or, like all of the life had been sucked out of them and something dead and evil pumped back in their place
All of the descriptions were like the above and they all evoked the dark and eerie mood of Dorothy Must Die to a tee.
Something that you should be aware about before starting Dorothy Must Die is that it’s the first of a series. This means that there’s a lot of plot, character and setting development. However there will be less resolutions, relationship development and concrete answers. It simply makes sense that this installment is the build up for what is going to follow. Dorothy Must Die does end with a scream worthy cliffhanger that will drive you up the wall. It also ends with a major plot twist you won’t see coming regarding one of the characters, at least I didn’t see it coming anyway. I can’t wait to read more by Danielle Paige and see what else to see what this mystical world of Oz and the lovely Amy Gumm has to offer.
Overall, Dorothy Must Die was a very enjoyable read. I only had a few quibbles, but they were easy to look over due to the fact that this was the first in a series, the lovely characters and the immersive world building. I’d definitely recommend this one to anybody looking for a dark retelling of a classic story.
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